They called it the White City. It was as magical a creation as the Emerald City of Oz, built in less than two years by architect Daniel H. Burnham in a swamp eight miles south of downtown Chicago. It was Chicago’s first world’s fair, the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, and it may well have been the most beautiful fair ever staged. | Courtesy the archives of St. John’s University

Making no small plans for new musical about Daniel Burnham

SHARE Making no small plans for new musical about Daniel Burnham
SHARE Making no small plans for new musical about Daniel Burnham

There is something about Daniel Burnham, the visionary architect and urban planner who put such an indelible stamp on Chicago, that fires up the imagination of artists in other fields.

The Joffrey Ballet’s now two-year-old production of “The Nutcracker” featured a fictionalized version of Burnham as a central character in Christopher Wheeldon’s ballet that spins around the designer’s most massive achievement — the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. And earlier, choreographers Ann Reinking and Melissa Thodos made that World’s Fair their subject, too.

Now, the multi-media company Lost and Found Productions, has announced the world premiere of a new musical, “Burnham’s Dream: The White City.” It features a book and lyrics by playwright/documentary maker June Finfer (whose earlier play, “The Glass House,” dealt with another great Chicago architect, Mies van der Rohe), and music and lyrics by Elizabeth Doyle.

The show, to be directed by Erik Wagner, with music direction by Linda Madonia and choreography by Jessica Texidor, will run June 1 – July 1 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont. For tickets visit

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